Every woman deep down inside knew that her marriage was over before divorce ever became a reality.
I’ve been working with women in all stages of divorce for a long time now, and regardless of whether she was aware of it or not, every woman deep down inside knew that her marriage was in trouble before the divorce ever became a reality. My guess is that men experience the same thing.
Marriage is one of the most complicated relationships you will ever have. And yet despite staggering divorce statistics and my own personal experience, I also know that it is possible to have an extraordinary, rockin’ relationship that can thrive over the long haul!
But marriage isn’t easy; and so many fail because once the wedding is over, there is a false assumption that the individuals in the marriage are “obligated” to stay in it; no matter what. Today, that assumption does not hold true. In fact, it is unreasonable to believe that the formality of a wedding is what will sustain a marriage rather than recognizing that a wedding is only the first step in creating and sustaining it.
Marriages do not deteriorate overnight. Most often, the demise of the relationship, and marriage, is a long time in coming; and sometimes not even visible at first. There are always signs and symptoms that a marriage is in trouble, even if things look “fine” on the outside. Here are three of the most common signs that your relationship needs attention.
You are no longer talking intimately with each other on a regular basis.
Having been there before, I know what this looks and feels like. It is when your marriage begins to feel like you are roommates rather than intimate partners. Conversation with each other revolves around your schedules, the kids and financial decisions; and they usually happen on the go. Communicating no longer includes the sharing of your careers, your passions, your relationship or your life vision; in fact you can’t remember when you last indulged in this kind of exchange. You have begun to feel disconnected from each other and the life journey that you are on.
Your sex life is barely existent if it exists at all.
What can I say; it is rare to find a healthy marriage that does not include a vibrant sex life. Despite our attempt to convince ourselves otherwise, when sex is absent from a relationship and marriage, it is a sign of trouble. A consistent, fun, passionate and loving sex life is a critical part of a happy and healthy marriage; a critical and necessary part of the puzzle. While it is not the most important part of a marriage, it is one of the ways that we express love, passion and intimacy with each other and strengthen the bond that exists between partners. Of course there are natural ebbs and flows in any sexual relationship, but a significant absence is a clear sign of something more going on.
You have stopped planning romantic and fun alone time.
One of the signs that your marriage is in trouble is that you no longer plan special time together. Whether it is an intimate dinner out, a romantic evening away or a quiet, connecting hike; when neither of you is creating opportunities to be alone with each other, you should ask yourself why. I had the honor of participating in Tony Robbin’s Date with Destiny program a few years ago where I learned one of the most important relationship rules. In his words, every relationship requires C.A.N.I. or a commitment to constant and never-ending improvement.
As I have moved forward after my own divorce and been blessed to create and sustain an extraordinary new relationship, C.A.N.I. has been the cornerstone of our success. We are vigilant in our awareness of what is going on between us, and fully committed to addressing all issues as they arise.
Just because your marriage or relationship is showing any or all of these signs, it does not necessarily mean that it is over. Rather, these are significant red flags that cannot go unnoticed if you value and honor the longevity of your relationship and marriage.
Unfortunately the fear of what might happen if we acknowledge or address these issues often convinces us that things will simply work themselves out over time. But here’s the thing, relationships that are struggling will almost never work themselves out without a commitment to action that will strengthen and repair them.
Don’t become someone who looks back after their divorce and knows deep down that it might have been prevented. If the signs are there, find the courage, the commitment and the desire to face your fear and do whatever it takes.